Ahead of next month’s ICE Totally Gaming conference, SVP of Business Development Lloyd Purser discusses the team’s strategy for 2019 and the role ICE will play.
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Twelve months after announcing our arrival on the gaming stage at ICE 2018 in London, we’re heading back again with a different approach in mind. Last year was all about proof of technology and education in the market. This year is about the commercial aspect, building out the ecosystem and driving consumer adoption. Education is an ongoing piece of course, there will always be those that are interested in blockchain who don’t yet fully understand what it is or its potential. But 2019 is all about shipping products, commercialising them and driving usage of the platform.
With that in mind, I’m going to discuss the unique offer we’ll be making to potential white label partners at the ICE gaming conference and how it fits into the bigger picture for the FunFair team this year.
But first, I’ll introduce myself! In my current role as SVP of Business Development, I am setting up marketing capabilities to run the white label operation, which is effectively a managed service organisation. I am also driving business development, developing links with operators and leveraging industry relationships.
After nearly a decade in marketing and business development roles with online media agencies and publishers, I moved into gaming in 2005 with Party Gaming, then headed up marketing for the digital side of the business at BetClic and Rank. More recently I spent five years in Scientific Games’ Interactive division in various roles across Europe and the US, from leading business development and account management, to setting up marketing services for the Pennsylvania iLottery and for Scientific Games’ B2B social casino business.
I have been following blockchain and crypto technology for a while and firmly believe the underlying technology is going to change the way people transact with each other. The use case for gaming is incredibly strong and FunFair is the most credible project in the space, especially from a team perspective. That’s why I am here.
For me, a successful 2019 will mean the launch of around five third-party brands on the FunFair platform and potentially more brands like CasinoFair that are owned by the FunFair Group. I will also want to see the platform as a whole regularly exceeding a certain number of monthly and daily active users. These KPIs are less exciting to talk about than the FunFair vision of a world of fair, decentralised gaming, but they are central to my philosophy and the whole team’s efforts this year. I’ll be focused on tangible numbers that we as a team need to be achieving in order to keep moving forwards. Those numbers will come from the optimisation and expansion of our existing activity, and the launch of new brands. That brings us back to ICE, the outreach and the compelling terms we will be offering to the right partners.
Turning up the heat at ICE
We will be inviting potential white label partners – organisations large and small on whose behalf we would operate a branded blockchain casino – to apply for a FunFair white label on enhanced terms exclusive to ICE attendees. For those who are selected from all who apply, we will waive all setup costs plus the first 12 months of operating costs, as well as allowing them to keep 100% of net gaming revenue. This really will be a case of ‘we do all the work, you keep all the profit’, and we’re confident it will have significant cut through at what is a very competitive show.
After spending 2018 proving the technology works, the test now is: can we scale it? There’s a very healthy reward if we can do that, for us and our partners, but there are risk elements too and we are willing to assume some of that risk for a number of reasons. We recognise that blockchain technology is new and complex, and that crypto is an evolving sector. Being an early adopter can be challenging as well as lucrative, and we are happy to mitigate that with an outstanding offer.
We also want, as soon as possible, to test one of the most revolutionary aspects of our technology. The incredibly light operational requirements of the FunFair technology allow us to create and manage relationships with partners and consumers more quickly and cost effectively than any other gaming solution. With no need for payments, security or fraud teams, or expensive server infrastructure, we avoid the kinds of issues that impact traditional casinos. That should enable us to become an efficient hub for the launch and operation of an almost limitless number of white labels.
But most of all, it’s about FunFair being an ambitious company. We are not going to sit back, let the product speak for itself and hope that will drive uptake. We are proactively pushing the potential of blockchain in gaming, aggressively driving uptake on the platform to ensure things happen quickly. So, it makes sense to assume some of the risk at this early stage in order to turbocharge adoption of the technology.
ICE will be vital to that strategic goal. It’s where we will set our stall out – literally and figuratively – for the year. All of the major global gaming operators, game studios and affiliates will be there, and I cannot think of a more important show for those operating in the space. Last year at ICE we talked about the incredible potential of the technology. Now we’re returning with proven technology, a live product and a compelling proposition for the right partners.
We will be looking to identify suitable partners and convert that into the launch of a number of white label casinos later this year. We want to be talking not just to the biggest brands, but to those more agile operators who would be interested in the blockchain market but may not yet have heard about us. Those who have an existing brand, an existing database of players or a pool of brands or operators to whom they can immediately promote and convince of the benefits of the blockchain and our unique implementation of it. We’ll be looking for serious partners who have experience of, or the ability to acquire customers for the platform. They may already operate in territories that match ours. They may have multiple affiliate deals in place or be an agency who has experience with crypto players. They might be a single casino or group with a large database of players. Whoever they are, we would be looking for that key commitment to bringing in new players.
What will those players look like? Existing crypto players or enthusiasts are in theory an ideal audience for the product but in fact with the benefits of provable fairness, custody of funds and instant cashout, FunFair casinos have the potential to appeal beyond crypto to traditional igaming customers. That’s another of the hypotheses we are looking to test at ICE, and by launching casinos with partners of varying profiles.
If you consider large databases of traditional internet casino customers, some will have fundamental issues with the existing casino format – concerns over game fairness, doubts about operator integrity, dissatisfaction with payments delays or the unfair withholding of funds, or loss of funds if an operator goes under. We have solved many of these issues and feel our offering will resonate with a range of players, particularly VIPs in certain markets. If we can persuade even a small percentage of a very large traditional database to try a FunFair-powered casino, that will prove another aspect of our model and put blockchain gaming on the map. It will also give FunFair operators prime share of the new market and ultimately drive profitability for our white label partners.
ICE is also a great place to get feedback from the market and get more commercial proof that blockchain gaming has legs. This time, we have a more comprehensive story to tell about where the product and the market are today.
The state of play and the road ahead
The first FunFair-powered casino, CasinoFair, is already live and operating in 14 countries. As discussed in more detail in blog posts from Stefan and Fred, we released quickly while being aware of some suboptimal issues with onboarding. We’re working fast to reduce the friction that can hinder the new player experience, and that is an ongoing project for us and in fact for every gaming and technology enterprise. We have seen that the technology works – the protocol is secure and transparent, games are provably fair – so now it’s a question of what needs to happen for us to begin allocating marketing spend. Clearly, we need confidence that we can onboard and retain customers effectively. Once we are there, and we will be soon, we will start promoting the brand. Marketing is critical to hitting the all-important numbers.
But we have solved the hard problems that inventing new tech has thrown up. The remaining issues are known and common issues in iGaming, and ones that will be improved on iteratively in parallel with the onboarding of new brands. Our first white label casino, in partnership with RakeTheRake, is planned for launch soon, with the next few white labels – those we select from ICE – following one by one throughout the year rather than simultaneously. So, as we progress through the partnership roadmap, we’re also progressing the product roadmap and will be optimising every aspect of the product. The release of white labels, the product roadmap, the regulatory piece, the corporate governance, the community – everything is aligned to deliver the active user targets that will drive us forward.
Now we have to meet the challenge of scaling up. Our Curaçao licence enables us to operate in a number of markets, though we are seeking to secure more licences that give us access to more jurisdictions. Not yet being able to operate in the US, the biggest crypto market, is not a major issue given the depth of the existing markets we have barely touched so far.
Beyond pure blockchain enthusiasts and crypto holders, we feel the benefits of the tech will appeal to a portion of the traditional igaming customers. Although the existing blockchain infrastructure makes it challenging for a non-crypto person to quickly pick up, we are always developing possible solutions. If, for example, a database of VIPs who were not blockchain savvy wanted to play, where we would look to assist them in getting their crypto, their FUN tokens.
The culture of the team and the FunFair brand is also a crucial piece of the puzzle and it is evolving to focus on the delivery of specific KPIs. It may not feel very ‘crypto’ but it’s how you get the numbers moving in the right direction, build usage of the platform and reach that critical mass of activity. That’s the contrast with 2018, which was all about product and proof of concept. Now we are driving the commercialisation and proving the use cases. Moving from the development phase to the marketing phase is, for the likes of me, an exciting time and it all starts with ICE.
I will be there on the FunFair stand N9-135, exhibiting the product and talking with industry players. I encourage those who are coming to visit our stand, speak to the team, try the games and see for yourself why our platform can be a game-changer in so many ways. And if you fancy being one of the early pioneers of blockchain gaming, submit your application here.